Main pic: Alan Millar (left) with Causeway Coast and Glens Mayor, Ivor Wallace, at the launch of his book of contemporary Ulster-Scots verse, ‘Echas frae tha Big Swilly Swally’.
A ‘challenging’ and ‘significant’ new collection of Ulster-Scots poetry was launched recently by award-winning Donegal writer, Alan Millar.
‘Echas frae tha Big Swilly Swally’ was revealed to the public for the first time at the Fuse Ulster-Scots Centre, Ballymoney, County Antrim.
The beautifully put together 138 page book contains a collection of 25 poems and was published with the assistance of the Ullans Speakers Association.
It has been described as a “fantastic book of poems, a significant collection of new writing in Ulster-Scots” by Dr Frank Ferguson, of Ulster University.
The book resonates with echoes of Millar’s native Donegal. Originally from St Johnston, but now based in north Antrim, Alan is the only Irish person ever to have won the prestigious Scots Language Society’s Hugh MacDiarmid Tassie.
“I have been on a poetic journey through Ulster-Scots for quite a few years and creating my own collection of contemporary verse is an important milestone on that journey,” he said this week.
“Not only in language, but thematically, my work resonates with its Donegal influences and the title ‘Echas frae tha Big Swilly Swally’ locates the collection very much between the Foyle and the Swilly.
“Ulster-Scots is a very deep, rich and versatile Irish literary tradition and my poems are written on a wide variety of historical and contemporary subjects, from the United Irishmen to Brexit, lockdown, the war in Ukraine and universal themes of friendship and loss.”
The final poem in the book is an address to President Michael D. Higgins.
The Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens, Councillor Ivor Wallace, attended the launch.
“I want to congratulate Alan on the launch of his new book, which continues his sterling contributions to the Ulster-Scots language,” Mayor Wallace said.
“This is a fascinating new collection of Ulster-Scots poems that will help promote and preserve the language. I look forward to seeing what Alan does next!”
John Murray of the Ullans Speakers Association said the organisation is committed to promoting and encouraging Ulster-Scots language.
“We are therefore delighted to announce the publication of Echoes frae tha Big Swilly Swally, Alan’s collection of poems,” Mr Murray said.
“We have produced a number of books in the past, including one of Alan’s, and are looking forward to doing more in the future.”
Alan uses many verse forms, from traditional Scottish stanzas, free verse and humorous rhymes and there is no shortage of ever popular favourites within the Ulster-Scots tradition.
“Plenty o aule men santerin, kats an kye, whin bushes an fairy thorns,” as one might say in the Ulster-Scots dialect.
Alan’s book has been highly praised by top people in the world of Ulster-Scots and Scots language.
Mr William Hershaw, Editor of the Scots Language Society Journal, Lallans, said: “Alan Millar is is ain man wi his ain unco byordinar voice. Like aa the special anes, he is able tae see the warld in his ain byous way!”
“Alan’s work challenges the perception that Ulster-Scots has limitations as a literary language,” says Dr Linde Lunney, formerly of the Royal Irish Academy.
To secure your copy, search Amazon or contact Alan directly via email: firstname.lastname@example.org